No short sprints for Wayde

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS

WAYDE van Niek­erk’s first love may be the shorter sprints but he will have to put it on the back­burner once he is back to full fit­ness.

The 400m world record holder has started re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion af­ter an op­er­a­tion to his right knee.

Van Niek­erk’s coach “Tan­nie” Ans Botha said they were ef­fec­tively back to when she first started work­ing with the star ath­lete.

He started out as a promis­ing 200m ath­lete and was fourth on his in­ter­na­tional de­but at the 2010 World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Canada.

But due to per­sis­tent ham­string in­juries, Botha de­cided to move her charge to the one-lap sprint.

As much as Van Niek­erk dis­likes the 400m, it has earned him global fame and ad­mi­ra­tion.

“We have to wait and see af­ter he re­turns from Qatar af­ter he has com­peted his re­hab,” Botha said.

“We have to work day by day and lis­ten care­fully to his body, ad­just and work like we have the past five years.”

Botha has been ex­tremely pro­tec­tive of her pro­tégé keep­ing his am­bi­tions of rac­ing the 100 and 200m in check. It was only this year that she gave him some slack to race the 100 and 200.

“In the past five years we went through a lot; some days we could train and some­times you have lis­ten to the body and rest com­pletely for that day.

“This year Wayde ran his best times in the 100, he ran an SA 200m record, broke the 300m world best, and was able to de­fend his 400m world ti­tle as well as bring­ing home the 200m sil­ver medal.”

Be­fore sus­tain­ing me­dial and lat­eral tears of the menis­cus, as well as a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in a touch rugby match in Oc­to­ber, Van Niek­erk had his sights set on a 100/200m dou­ble at the Com­mon­wealth Games.

He is ex­pected to be out for at least six months and is likely to only race again next Au­gust.

“Be­cause the Com­mon­wealth Games is so early in the year, Wayde and I planned to han­dle the Games as if it is our na­tional cham­pi­onships,” Van Niek­erk said. But that is now on ice.

CHAM­PI­ONS HUDDLE? Tefu Mashamaite­and his Su­pers­port United team­mates say prayers be­fore their train­ing ses­sion at the Royal Bafo­keng Sports Palace in prepa­ra­tion for the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal, first leg against hold­ers TP Mazembe of the DRC Pic­ture: Syd­ney Mahlangu/

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